The InterfaceIBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976

The InterfaceIBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976

John Harwood

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816670390

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

In February 1956 the president of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., hired the industrial designer and architect Eliot Noyes, charging him with reinventing IBM’s corporate image, from stationery and curtains to products such as typewriters and computers and to laboratory and administration buildings. What followed—a story told in full here—remade IBM in a way that would also transform the relationships between design, computer science, and corporate culture. IBM’s program assembled a cast of leading figures in American design: Noyes, Charles Eames, Paul Rand, George Nelson, and Edgar Kaufmann Jr. This book offers a detailed account of the key role these designers played in shaping both the computer and the multinational corporation. The book describes a surprising inverse effect: the influence of computer and corporation on the theory and practice of design. Here the book shows how, in the period stretching from the “invention” of the computer during World War II to the appearance of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, disciplines once well outside the realm of architectural design—information and management theory, cybernetics, ergonomics, computer science—became integral aspects of design.